Building The Bridge--To parents struggling with feelings about LGBTQ adult children.
Hi there. I see you. You are confused. Scared. Angry. You want a relationship with your child but you can not see the bridge between your values and a relationship with them. Hmmm. Where do I begin? For one, I believe there is a way, so to start, I want to give you hope. Maybe you think..."I can't give in because if I do then they will think that I am "ok-ing" this." "I can't stand to watch my child do this to their lives." "I worry about my child's afterlife!" Maybe you just feel icky and shame about it. Maybe you feel guilt for feeling shame about it, confused about how everyone is ok with this! Maybe you feel afraid for their children. Maybe you feel ok about it, but your spouse does not and navigating that struggle is also difficult. Maybe you are afraid of family shaming you or your parenting or maybe you just feel...this was not in the plan!!!!
I know you love your child. They may feel that you don't.
I know you need to be heard too.
These are fragile, shaky grounds we are on where the roads of identity/religion/upbringing collide.
Honestly, I am nervous writing this! It will possibly be scrutinized. Navigating fragile terrain is terror-fying.
I'll start with where I am coming from and you can decide if you would like to continue. When I have come to the darkest times in my life and I ask...what matters? At the end of the darkness, my only answer is...relationships. Relationships are everything to me and I will fight tooth and nail to protect them. The parent-child relationship matters so much. You matter so much--even if it doesn't feel that way.
Parents disagreeing with how their child is living their lives is nothing new. Maybe you have felt that from your own parents, but it was about something else. Maybe they disagreed with life path, who you married, if you were feminine or masculine enough...to how you wore your hair. Think about how it felt even when a parent scrutinized small things such as...hair. It can be very painful to receive judgement from parents even for something small. Even when we are OLD! That is how much parents matter.
Now you are being faced with a difference that shakes your" Values" foundation...and I know you are shook.
Let's get back to that bridge metaphor. What are going to be the building blocks of this bridge?
You need to believe that a bridge can be built.
You and your child will need to build up listening tolerance.
(This one is tough) You will need to learn to have an emotional boundary about your adult child....If they are an adult...you will need to learn to see them as such. WHATTTTTT? CAROLINE... THEY WILL ALWAYS BE MY CHILDREN!!! I hear you. And...it's just one of the building blocks.
It would be good to have a therapist for you, a therapist for your child and maybe a therapist for the two of you.
You will be challenged to release your role as parent and transition to only "mother and father." WHHHHATTT? This makes no sense! Where your child still needs the love and support of their mother or father, they may no longer need parenting. I know this is tough to swallow.
If you are still with me....
You will need faith and trust that y'all can make it over the bridge into relationship.
Your adult child is still that soul that you brought into this world and they need your love. And I know you are suffering every day without that relationship. I know it is killing you inside.
Start building the bridge.